A new social media challenge is gaining traction, and it’s potentially hazardous. A TikTok fad that might cause an electrical fire is being warned about by Massachusetts fire authorities.
As shown in many viral videos spreading on YouTube and TikTok, the current craze is slipping a penny underneath a partly plugged-in phone charger.
While the prank may seem harmless, the penny may impact the metal prongs, producing “sparks, electrical system damage, and in some instances fire,” according to Massachusetts Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey.
A picture of a burnt outlet in Holden received by the marshal was purportedly triggered by the internet hoax.
According to Fox 31, a student at Plymouth North High School reportedly set fire after completing the challenge, which Plymouth Schools Superintendent Dr. Gary Maestas described as “irresponsible.”
Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the unintentional arsonist has been charged.
According to Plymouth Fire Chief Ed Bradley, the kids were fortunate since the rash chase may have resulted in “damage to some electrical wire behind the wall” and “a fire could be undiscovered and smoldering in the walls, threatening everyone in the building.”
Ostroskey asked parents to notify “local news outlets, school administrators, and parent groups” about the TikTok-sparked fires in order to avoid similar fires. He also recommended that they “not just search for evidence of fire play, such as burned outlets, but also conduct fire and electrical safety dialogues with tweens and teens.”
The fire marshal’s public service broadcast seems to be having an effect.
“Safety note, kiddies, occasionally ancient circuit breakers fail to trigger, and the wires in the wall heat up to the point of burning your home on fire,” one commenter remarked in response to a YouTube video of a coin challenge.
“As a professional electrician, I say to the youngsters, keep doing what you’re doing.” Another remarked, “S]ervice calls from problems like these are easy money.”
Unfortunately, the penny prank isn’t the only risky challenge floating around on video-sharing applications.
Ostroskey compares the risky prank to “previous popular videos that promote harmful conduct,” presumably referring to earlier risky video endeavors such as the Tide pod and cinnamon challenges.
Click-baiting chuckleheads went popular on TikTok earlier this week for eating cereal out of one other’s mouths, causing a choking danger, according to the Twitterverse. The “taste testicle” challenge is on the more ridiculous — but innocuous — end of the TikTok range.